Document Type

Book Chapter


Religion (CGU)

Publication Date



Arts and Humanities | History of Religions of Western Origin | Other Religion | Religion


The word "orientations" in the title of this essay refers to spatial orientations, as in points of the compass, and is meant to raise the question of cultural change along the South-North axis in North America. What happened to people as they moved northward in the eighteenth century, or more exactly, what was thought to happen to them? Much as been written about culture going from East to West and in the opposite direction from West to East. Contemporaries likewise spoke of the change in culture moving from North to South, but what about migrations from South to North, from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia, for example? What were the benefits and hazards of heading North? Culture was thought to deteriorate as people travelled into the West. Was the North another West, a frozen frontier? Did it stifle and thwart civilizing influences, or did it temper and purify them? Was the North wild, as the West was wild, or was it merely severe, chastening people rather than breaking them down? I am not equipped to answer my own questions, but I hope to point the issue as sharply as possible by looking at the meaning of the East-West axis in cultural orientation and suggesting a few possibilities for the cultural meaning of migration North.


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© 2001 Acadiensis Press